If you’re heading to the beach, you’ve probably packed things to do (a book, some sand toys for the kids) and things to eat (the best beach sandwich, of course). But did you remember anything to drink? If you’re like most of us, you probably didn’t pack enough water.
Staying hydrated is kind of overrated in everyday life: normal fluid intake is good enough, and we don’t need “drink water” reminders as long as we take a sip of something when we’re thirsty. But when you’re packing for a hiking trip, a day at the beach, or any other outdoor adventure where opportunities to refill will be limited, it’s important to make sure you bring enough.
How to calculate the amount of water you need
While there aren’t many scientific studies on how much water our bodies need while lounging on the beach, there are calculations out there for how much people need when exercising, hiking, or camping—and those give us a guideline.
For “moderate” activities at “moderate” temperatures, REI recommends half a liter per person per hour. A typical beach day is hotter than “moderate” temperatures, but we’re also not necessarily doing much exercise.Half a liter is the size of a disposable water bottle, so imagine a case of 12 for two people spending six hours at the beach, or four people spending three hours. (Reusable bottles would be more eco-friendly, of course. This is just an example for visualization’s sake.)
On a hot day, though, you’ll need more. We lose water through sweating (plus a little through our breath) so the more we sweat, the more water we need. A more generous rule of thumb holds that hikers should bring one full liter per hour (two disposable-sized bottles).
Which rule should you use? That’s a judgment call. If you always end up thirsty at the end of a beach day, bring more than you think you’ll need.
Do other liquids count?
Good news: yes! While water is the simplest way to hydrate, other fluids count, too. Sodas, fruit drinks, juices, lemonade, and even watery foods like popsicles and watermelon provide our bodies with water. That includes caffeinated drinks; they’re not nearly as dehydrating as you may have heard.
I would leave alcohol out of the tally, though. Alcohol really is dehydrating, and you’ll want to alternate servings of water and boozy beverages when you’re day drinking anyway. Pack the recommended amount of water in addition to the beers or cocktails you plan to drink.
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